Military Keeps Info on N.Korea's Latest Missile from Public

  • By Cho Yi-jun, Yang Seung-sik

    September 11, 2019 10:52

    The South Korean military on Tuesday deliberately kept information about North Korea's latest missile launch from the public, apparently for fear of embarrassing itself if its analysis proved wrong again.

    The military has come under fire after having to make several corrections after it announced inaccurate information on the North's recent missile launches.

    A missile blasts off in Kaechon, South Pyongan Province on Tuesday, in this image from the [North] Korean Central News Agency on Wednesday.

    But a bullish military spokesman suggested the public should be grateful for any information at all. "South Korea is the only country in the world that makes the specs public whenever the North lobs a missile," the spokesman said. "We don't have to show our hand prematurely."

    The military here has regularly been embarrassed by North Korea a day later, when state media published their own announcements and clips.

    The likeliest reason for the sudden reticence is that South Korean and U.S. intelligence agencies came up with different figures or failed to share intelligence properly.

    But the spokesman said, "Nothing has happened in the process of sharing intelligence between Seoul and Washington. Tokyo didn't ask us to share latest intelligence either."

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un watches a missile launch in Kaechon, South Pyongan Province on Tuesday, in this image from the [North] Korean Central News Agency on Wednesday.

    The military later revealed that it believes the missiles fired Tuesday morning reached an altitude of about 50 to 60 km and flew a distance of 330 km.

    "It's possible that the missiles were fired from... a 600 mm super-large multiple rocket launcher, or a new missile system, given their flight from an inland area to the East Sea and their flight distances," the spokesman added.

    But a U.S. spokesperson dismissed the launch, calling the latest North Korean missiles "projectiles," perhaps because the launch came only a day after North Korea's Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui proposed a resumption of talks in late September.

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